Archive for the ‘Craig Stammen’ Category
Monday, September 30th, 2013
The Washington Nationals finished their season in Arizona with a loss to the Diamondbacks, 3-2. In many ways the loss was representative of what the team had done all season: entering the eighth inning with a one run lead, the Nationals’ bullpen gave up two runs to an Arizona team they’d beaten handily in the previous two outings.
While the game was the last in a season that saw the Nats drop out of contention for the N.L. East title back in June and July, the team came back in September with a run at the Wild Card. The key to the Nationals resurgence was a revived offense and pitching contributions from unlikely rookies, including Tanner Roark, who held the D-Backs to just three hits in seven innings on Sunday.
“I feel I can play up here for sure. But you never know what’s going to happen,” Roark said after his performance on Sunday. “Just workout in the offseason, do my best and come back ready to go in spring training.” Roark has been outstanding since arriving in the majors in early August: he finished at 7-1 with a 1.51 ERA over 53 2/3 innings, striking out 40 and walking 11.
The final game of the season also marked Davey Johnson’s last game as the Nats’ manager. “Time to go home,” Johnson said after the game. “Put me out to pasture.” The Nationals praised their 70-year-old skipper, with Tyler Clippard noting that a good manager “builds confidence in his players and we benefited from that because he never wavered, no matter how good or bad you were doing.”
Johnson was philosophical about what is apparently the end of his career, choosing to bypass comments on the Nationals’ season. “I felt really lucky to have had the big league experiences I’ve had as a player and as a manager,” he told the press after the Arizona loss. “When you love a game as much as I love this game and like the competition, you just enjoy it.”
Those Are The Details, Now For The Headlines: An 86-76 record would have sparked celebrations in Washington just a few years ago, but the Nationals (picked by many as the premier team in the National League) must be disappointed. Even so, there is good reason for celebrating a season that saw the Nationals finish ten games out of the hunt in the N.L. East . . .
Wednesday, September 18th, 2013
The Washington Nationals have made the improbable now possible, stunning the Atlanta Braves in a split doubleheader on Tuesday, winning a come-from-behind first game in the bottom of the 9th inning, 6-5, then coming back to tame Atlanta 4-0 in the nightcap. The twin wins kept Washington in the hunt for the last Wild Card slot in the National League.
The Nationals seemed headed for defeat in the first game of the twin bill, trailing Atlanta by a score of 5-3 going into the bottom of the 9th inning. But the Nationals scored three runs on a walk to Adam LaRoche, a Wilson Ramos infield single, an Anthony Rendon walk, a fielder’s choice that scored LaRoche and a walk-off error from the usually sure-handed Andrelton Simmons.
The Simmons error came off the bat of Washington’s Denard Span, capping a three run rally that sparked a mass celebration by the Nationals. The rally marked a day in which the team and fans paid homage to those who had died at the nearby Navy Yard at the hands of a lone gunman on Monday. The Nats wore emblematic Navy hats as a tribute prior to the game.
Atlanta had trailed 3-0 in the game, but a furious comeback from the Braves in the 8th inning gave Atlanta a one run lead, which they expanded by a run in the 9th inning. The 8th inning comeback victimized sure-armed reliever Tyler Clippard, who gave up a walk to Freedie Freeman, following by an Evan Gattis home run — his 20th of the year.
“He felt terrible,” Nationals starter Dan Haren said of Clippard following the victory. “He was yelling for 15 minutes straight, screaming in the locker room. How many times has the guy picked us up this year in huge games? Has so many holds. The guy pitches six out of seven days. The guy has been money all year.”
But Clippard’s frustration couldn’t match that felt by Atlanta fireballer Craig Kimbrel, arguably the most effective closer in the National League in 2013. Kimbrel had converted 37 straight save opportunities before Tuesday, but couldn’t survive the Simmons’ error.
“Any time I go out there and don’t do my job, it’s a tough one to swallow, because my job is to go out there and solidify what everybody else has done the entire game,” Kimbrel said following his blown save. “Everybody worked their butts off all game long. We battled back and took a lead.”
Wednesday, September 11th, 2013
The power of baseball superstitions are such that we dare not even whisper (let alone shout) about what is now true. But we’ll do it anyway: the Washington Nationals are suddenly a part of “the October conversation,” as they say, having won their fourth in a row in New York by overpowering the Mets, 6-3.
The Nationals latest win, coming off the arm of Jordan Zimmermann (who won his 17th) and bat of Jayson Werth, left the Nationals just six games out of the last Wild Card slot, with Cincinnati being overpowered by the Cubs (it was a no contest 9-1 drubbing) at home. The Nationals are in the hunt.
Tuesday’s game seemed almost a replay of the previous three: the Nationals came out swinging, chipping away at starter Dillon Gee (Denard Span continued his consecutive game hitting streak) and then serving up New York fastballs into Citi Field’s lower deck.
The Nationals have had little luck against Gee this year, but Tuesday night was different. The home towners touched the puzzling righty for four runs in 6-plus innings, which included a home run from Werth in the first, a home run from Adam LaRoche in the second and in-the-gap doubles from Span and Werth in the third.
Prior to Tuesday, Gee had tamed the Nationals in four of his last five starts, transforming himself into the N.L. East’s premier Nats’ killer. But he was flummoxed on Tuesday, talking to himself on the mound. “Obviously, I wasn’t commanding the ball as well as I have been,” Gee said of his outing. “You can’t get away with that against these guys. They made me pay.”
Gee’s nemesis was Werth, who has propelled himself into the race for the N.L. batting title. But it wasn’t all Werth: Jordan Zimmermann and four relievers (Craig Stammen, Drew Storen, Tyler Clippard and Rafael Soriano) held the Mets to three runs, putting the lid on the Mets line-up.
Monday, September 2nd, 2013
There was a sense of gloom as the Nationals came to the plate in the 8th inning on Sunday night at Nationals Park, but Jayson Werth’s two out double to right center field capped a three run rally and Washington went on to down the New York Mets, 6-5.
“That’s what good clubs do,” Werth said after the improbable victory. “They come back. And that’s what we’re going to have to do from here on out. We’re going to have to find a way.” Werth double capped a 2-5 night for the right fielder and raised his average to a team-leading .323.
For sheer baseball entertainment, the Nationals-Mets contest might have been the most exciting this year at Nationals Park, and came as the Anacostia Nine attempt to catch the Cincinnati Reds for the last Wild Card spot in the National League. The Nationals needed this win, particularly after New York took the first two games of the three game series.
But the Nationals struggled from the minute they took the field on Sunday. The Mets put two runs on the board in the first inning on doubles from Eric Young and Daniel Murphy and a single from Lucas Duda. The two run inning came against starter Ross Ohlendorf, who was hit hard until being relieved by Craig Stammen to start the 6th.
Ohlendorf gave up four earned runs on nine hits in just five innings, which included six extra base hits. He struggled with his command in every frame. “That’s the worst my command’s been I think all season,” Ohlendorf said of his outing. “I don’t expect that to carry over for the next one. I feel like I’ll make some adjustments. My command just wasn’t good.”
Ohlendorf was not the only pitcher with command problem. Mets’ starter Jonathon Niese gave up ten hits to the Nationals while pitching into the 6th inning, while holding Washington to three runs. As usual, the Mets had to rely on a shaky bullpen for the win and, as has been the case nearly all year, that bullpen gave up the game.
Friday, August 23rd, 2013
“A win is a win,” Nationals’ skipper Davey Johnson explained on Thursday evening following Washington’s 13 inning 5-4 victory against the Cubs in Chicago. What Johnson meant to say was that it’s easier to overlook an embarrassment, so long as (in the end), your team puts one in the win column.
The embarrassment, and that’s what it was, came in the bottom of the 9th inning, when an otherwise brilliant start from Washington righty Stephen Strasburg was squandered when the young ace inexplicably gave up a game tying home run to Cubs third sacker Donnie Murphy.
Strasburg squatted on the pitchers’ mound as Murphy circled the bases, and continued to shake his head in the dugout after, disbelieving that what should have gone into the books as his seventh victory (and into the Nationals’ win column), turned out to be a no decision.
Strasburg’s 9th inning was a breathtaking collapse: “I had my way with him all day,” Strasburg said of Murphy’s at bat. “And then he runs into that curveball. Obviously it’s the location that was the problem. A curveball, once it leaves your hands you really have no control over it. It just didn’t have the same kind of bite as it had early on in the game.”
But Strasburg wasn’t the sole author of the Nats’ collapse. A throwing error from Anthony Rendon (subbing at shortstop for Ian Desmond), put Chicago’s second run across the plate in the 9th, when a good throw might have ended the game. Rendon’s errant throw brought Murphy to the plate.
Rendon’s 9th inning slip came on a tough play, but the young infielder admitted that his misstep added to the Nationals’ 9th inning troubles. “You feel terrible,” Rendon explained to reporters after the game. “Obviously I had a little slip over there, but that’s no excuse. I still should have made that play.”
But deflating as the 9th inning was, credit the Nationals (and their bullpen), for hanging in and eventually notching the victory. Tyler Clippard, Craig Stammen and Drew Storen kept the Cubs at bay over the next four innings, holding the North Siders hitless while striking out four.
Thursday, August 22nd, 2013
The Nationals were outhit by the Chicago Cubs on Wednesday night (14 to 11), but home runs from Jayson Werth (his 18th on the season) and pinch hitter Scott Hairston (traded by the Cubs to Washington back in early July), propelled the home towners to an 11-6 victory at Wrigley Field.
The key blast came from Hairston in the top of the 7th inning with Bryce Harper and Werth on base. Hairston’s knock came after the Cubs had tied the game at six runs apiece after Washington took an early game lead. “I know that he wants to show these guys what they’re missing, and he did a heck of a job,” Washington skipper Davey Johnson explained.
Washington’s eleven runs were welcome after a nearly all-season scoring drought from Washington, who now stand at twelfth in the league in runs scored, ahead of only Miami, Philadelphia and San Francisco. “Eleven runs, you’d think it’s Christmas,” Johnson said. “It was a weird ballgame. All kinds of strange things happened. The offense came around.”
With the wind blowing out, the Nats needed all the runs they could get, as starter Ross Ohlendorf (returning from the disabled list), gave up four runs on six hits over 4.1 innings. Nor did the Nats’ bullpen, a strong point for the team over the last weeks, step up to dampen the Cubs’ potent offense.
The usually reliable Tanner Roark relieved Ohlendorf in the fifth, but gave up two runs on four hits while pitching just 1.2 innings. Roark might have been nervous, as a bevy of family and friends cheered him on from Wrigley’s left field bleachers. But Craig Stammen, Tyler Clippard and Rafael Soriano capably closed out the game.
Sunday, August 18th, 2013
“That’s a real body blow for the Nationals,” MASN commenter F.P. Santagelo said after Justin Upton’s home run off of Nats’ closer Rafael Soriano sailed into the seats on Saturday night. And he added: “Again.” The Upton home run tied the game at seven runs apiece, in what should have been a clear Nationals’ win.
But instead of a victory, the Braves and Nats entered an extra inning marathon that saw each team use nearly everyone on their roster — and only ended in the bottom of the 15th, with Dan Haren shutting down the Braves after Adam LaRoche gave the Nationals a one run lead on his 18th home run of the year. “Golly, what a battle,” LaRoche said.
The Nationals fifteen inning win was a battle, for sure, but it was also an epic narrative — with enough story lines to fill a thick novel. It began with starter Stephen Strasburg’s retaliation (and subsequent ejection) against Atlanta’s Upton for the fact that Bryce Harper had been hit three times by Braves’ pitchers, and it ended when Washington starter Haren pitched for the first time in his career as a closer.
In between, the Nationals accumulated seventeen hits (including home runs from Ryan Zimmerman and Adam LaRoche), used seven relievers, and lofted a lone home run against Atlanta starter Kris Medlin, who’d been slotted by the Braves as their starter next Tuesday.
“Nothing comes easy against these guys, period,” LaRoche said following the exhausting victory. “We had some games where we had it put away, we have it in the books and they find a way to come back. We grind it out, and it was a full-team effort. We used everybody we had.”
Ironically, the fifteen inning marathon marked Stephen Strasburg’s shortest outing of the year, though for good reason. Everyone with any rooting interest knew that Strasburg would throw at an Atlanta hitter: and he did, plunking Justin Upton in the left hip on a fastball in the first inning.
The Strasburg HBP came after Atlanta’s Jason Heyward lofted a long home run into the left center field stands on Atlanta’s first at bat of the game. But Strasburg wasn’t done. He threw inside and then behind Andrelton Simmons after walking Jordan Schafer in the top of the second, and was immediately ejected by umpire Marvin Hudson.